In the wake of suffering a personal injury, many victims have a difficult time with making progress in their legal battle amidst all their other responsibilities. Acting quickly is important, however, because you do not have unlimited time to file your lawsuit. If you fail to meet the appropriate state laws on time limits, you may be prevented from having your voice heard in court.
In a typical personal injury lawsuit arising from the negligent conduct of one or more other people (such as a car accident, slip and fall injury, or a premises liability case), the injured person has three years from the date it occurs. Certain exceptions to the statute of limitations do exist, however. the subject matter of the lawsuit may require an altered timeline, as in the case of delayed discovery of the injury or medical malpractice. Exceptions also exist where the victim is a minor at the time of the injury or where the government is a defendant named in the lawsuit.
If you are injured, it is essential to know how much time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. Our Maryland personal injury attorney examines the time limit and the advantages of acting quickly in the following paragraphs. For more information, call us for free at (410) 694-7291.
What is a “Statute of Limitations?”
The “statute of limitations” refers to the law in the state that determines how long potential plaintiffs may wait before filing their lawsuit. the rule will not only determine how long the plaintiff has, but also when the clock starts running. the statute of limitations varies by state and by type of lawsuit, so it is critical that you understand which statute of limitations may apply to your specific situation.
The Statute of Limitations for Most Types of Injuries and Accidents in Maryland
As mentioned, for most types of injuries and accidents in Maryland, you have three years to initiate a lawsuit. In other words, if the clock begins to run on January 1, 2020, you have until January 1, 2023 to file your lawsuit with the clerk of the appropriate court. Several exceptions do exist, but it is important that you determine for sure whether they apply to your situation before relying on them. Speak to a Maryland personal injury lawyer today before time runs out on your chances to receive the compensation that you deserve.
When Does the Clock Start to Run?
The statute of limitations begins to run when the injured party discovers (or reasonably should have discovered) the injury. In most personal injury cases, the date of discovery is the date the incident that caused the injury occurred. There are some exceptions, which are articulated in detail below, but for the most part, the clock begins to run on the date of the injury. If you suffered a slip and fall accident in Maryland, then the statute of limitations began on the date of the fall.
In some cases, certain conduct that would be grounds for a personal injury suit may happen multiple times. One example of such a situation would be sexual abuse of a minor. If the injurious conduct happens multiple times, the statute of limitations may restart with each instance of abuse within the course of conduct. Whether this expansion is available in any given case depends on the nature of the conduct and the case law on the subject. Speak to one of our Aberdeen personal injury lawyers if you have any questions about when the clock started to run on your specific case.
Examples of How the Statute of Limitations Works for Personal Injury Lawsuits in Maryland
It is important to note the ways in which the rule works differently for various situations. To illustrate this legal concept, let’s take two examples of personal injuries for which the victim may validly sue.
For the first example, suppose Alice is involved in a car accident on March 10, 2021. Immediately after the accident, Alice is transported to the hospital, where she is diagnosed with three broken ribs and receives treatment. Since Alice discovers that she has broken ribs on March 10, 2021, she has until March 10, 2024 to file her personal injury lawsuit. the date that the injury accrues, or the date of discovery, is the date the crash happened. If Alice did not go to the hospital, the clock still likely would have started since she reasonably should have been aware that she was injured as a result of the car accident. the statute of limitations will begin to run from the date of the accident, even if the full of extent of the injuries is not known.
For the second example, suppose David is helping a friend remove old drywall in the friend’s home. the property owner lies to David, covering up the fact that the old drywall contains chemicals that have been known to cause pulmonary illnesses. Suppose that David is then diagnosed with a lung condition that he developed from exposure to the chemicals in the drywall. He would have two years to file his case from the date that he discovered (or reasonably should have discovered) the property owner’s misrepresentation and that the toxic conditions caused his injury.
Pausing Maryland’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits
There are times when a person has longer than three years to file a personal injury. Maryland law provides several exceptions to the three-year deadline.
The most common exception happens under the “discovery rule,” an exception to the traditional statute of limitations that refers to § 5-110 in the Maryland Code. This is the exception seen in the above example involving David removing drywall from his friend’s home. Under the discovery rule, the clock on the statute of limitations does not begin ticking until the date the injured party knows or should have reasonably known of the harm. However, these discovery rule exceptions only apply in limited cases. In these cases, the clock only runs for two years, so you should still speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
Fraudulently Concealed Injury or Cause
If a defendant purposefully and fraudulently concealed their negligent conduct, then the statute of limitations would begin from the date a reasonable person would have or should have discovered the fraud.
Another exception that may pause the statute of limitations in Maryland is if the personal injury victim is a minor at the time of the injury. the law recognizes that minors may not be fully aware of their injury or their right to bring a lawsuit because of their lack of maturity and development. Therefore, minors who suffer personal injuries enjoy a delayed start on the statute of limitations. In other words, if the victim is a minor, the clock doesn’t start until the day before their 18th birthday. This means that, no matter when a minor suffers their personal injury, they have until the day before their 21st birthday at the latest to file their lawsuit.
If the injured victim ultimately dies as a result of the defendant’s negligent conduct, the family of the victim may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. While slightly different than a personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit has the same requirements as a personal injury lawsuit, such as the elements that must be proven and the three-year statute of limitations. However, the clock for the statute of limitations only begins to run on the date of the victim’s death, as opposed to the date that the injuries were sustained.
The Statute of Limitations for Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases
Determining the date of discovery in a case arising from medical malpractice is more complicated. To accommodate this difficulty, the Maryland statute of limitations in Maryland medical malpractice cases is either three years from the date the plaintiff is aware of the injury or five years from the date the injury occurred, whichever is shorter.
In cases where the cause and harm are obvious, such as amputating the wrong limb, the statute of limitations will be three years from the date of the surgery. However, in some cases, such as a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose, the date of discovery becomes more challenging. Our experienced Baltimore personal injury attorneys understand the difficulty in determining how the statute of limitations applies to medical malpractice and will work tirelessly with you to ensure no deadlines are missed.
The Statute of Limitations in Maryland for Lawsuits Against the Government
When the defendant in a personal injury claim is the state government or a local government, the statute of limitations is drastically shorter than the typical three years. Under Maryland law, if a plaintiff wants to file a personal injury lawsuit against the local or state government, our Annapolis personal injury attorney must provide special notice of the claim within one year of the date of the injury. If this notice is not provided, a plaintiff could be prohibited from moving forward with a personal injury claim.
What if You Already Missed Your Deadline Under Maryland’s Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is not to be taken lightly. You should always act quickly in order to avoid getting caught up in timeline issues. However, even if you believe that you have already missed your deadline, it is worth your time to place a call to our Maryland personal injury lawyers for free to determine whether you may still have a case. Don’t count yourself out just yet. Your financial recovery is so important that it warrants your using every possible opportunity to keep your case alive.
Call Our Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys for a Free Consultation
Just because you have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit under Maryland’s statute of limitations does not mean you should wait that long. By immediately contacting our experienced Columbia personal injury attorneys, you can ensure that our office will have the time to collect evidence and prepare your case. Our law office will also ensure no important deadlines are missed. Waiting two years and three hundred and sixty-three days to file your personal injury claim puts you into an almost unwinnable situation. Do not hesitate to contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free consultation.